SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Benson Questions Why Young Didn't Question Oil
Industry During His Committee Hearing


September 13, 2006

Democrate Diane Benson who would like the seat held by Congressman Don Young, the At-Large Representative for the state of Alaska, is plenty upset with Young and is questioning why Young left his committee's meeting which was investigating the BP's pipeline failure and corrosion issue. Rep. Young is the Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Today, starting at 11:00 am, the committee was holding an investigation hearing on the BP oil spill, shutdown and maintenance issues.

Just as his opportunity to ask probing questions to Steve Marshall, President of BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.; Don Young left his meeting and allowed a fellow republican to chair the committee said Benson.

Benson said with the failure of BP to monitor its pipeline, the shut down of the Prudhoe Bay production and its effect on Alaska's economic future has made national news and is at the top of Alaska's priority list and this event and the investigation of who, how and why this host of incidents came about should be at the very top of the list of the only representative that Alaska has in the House of Representatives.

Representative Young continuously reminds the Alaskan people how important his seniority in the Congress is to Alaskans said Benson. Unfortunately, the time when Alaskans needed him most to represent the people of Alaska and the State itself, he is absent she said.

"Alaskans have to ask, 'What is more important to Don Young that he walks away from one of the most important issues to Alaska?'", stated Diane Benson, Democratic Candidate for Alaska's At-Large Congressional seat.

Benson said Rep. Young did not take advantage of a supreme opportunity on behalf of Alaskans to ask questions and probe for answers why BP Corporation allowed this situation to get out of control. He has at his availability a podium and chairmanship of a very strong oversight committee. His lack of action does a disservice to those he is sworn to serve.

"How can Alaskans continue to be satisfied with representation when that representation does not show up for the job when we need them most", continued Benson.

Since the Exxon Valdez disaster in March 1989, according to The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan, non-profit research group based in Washington, D.C. that tracks money in politics and its effect on elections and public policy, Rep. Don Young has received $915,763 from the Oil and Gas Industry. In this current election cycle (2005 ­ 2006), according to the Center, the Oil and Gas Industry has contributed $49,550 to Young.

Rep. Young's Top Contributors, since the Exxon Valdez disaster are: #1 VECO Corp, $125,650; #2 BP, $114,758; #6 VECO Inc. $74, 514; and #13 Exxon, $60,300.

On August 22, 2006, the Benson for Congress campaign said they emailed an invitation Rep. Don Young's campaign to invite the congressman to a series of Town Hall meetings. On Thursday August 23, 2006 the Benson Campaign received a phone call from Rep. Young campaign manager Steve Dougherty with a response of "NO" said campaign officials.

The invitation would have given both campaigns the opportunity to meet with voters of Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks in a Town Hall Meeting format in order for voters to ask each candidate questions. According to information provided by the Benson campaign, Dougherty stated that Congressman Young would continue his "tradition" of only participating in the KAKM debate.

"We feel that the Alaskan people have been left out once again of the election process. They are not being allowed the opportunity to speak to their elected official and have their questions answered", stated Kris J. Pierce, Diane Benson's campaign manager.

Pierce said the election process is an opportunity for the employers of public officials to "interview" the potential employees. How can anyone apply for job without being interviewed by the people you are to serve? How can our government be for the people and by the people if it is the people that are being left out in the cold?

"Why is Don Young hiding out and refusing to face the voters? Don Young has a lot to answer for, and he should debate Diane Benson. The voters deserve to hear these candidates discuss the issues," said Jake Metcalfe, Alaska Democratic Party chair.



Benson For Congress

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Ketchikan, Alaska